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Michael Carbaugh of Sandoval Interview with Flaneur

Flaneur: When did you start Sandoval and open your studio?

MC: In 2015, officially.

Flaneur: You live and work from the “east side” of LA. What’s the neighborhood like?

MC: Yes, I’ve lived in Highland Park for about three years. I was in Echo Park for three years- the studio is in Cypress Park. It feels honest here on the east side. It’s a great mix of local mutli-generational Latinos, and some older hipsters like me lol Great restaurants, wider streets. We can also see snow on the mountains in our skyline- Bonus! I’m coastal-bound though- living at the beach is definitely my long-term goal.

California Coast

Flaneur: Before LA, where have you been?

MC: In reverse order: San Francisco 2008-2013, New York 2002-2008, San Francisco 1997-2002, I was in Colorado the longest- growing up from 1992-1997. In total, like, thirteen places- my family worked for the military and the government, so we moved quite a bit before high school.

Flaneur: Which city do you consider leaving the deepest mark in you?

MC: I have to say that I’m an amalgamation of all of them! But the top four are probably New York, Northern California, Colorado, and Germany. I love being able to remember the Andy Warhol Retrospective in Cologne, Germany in the late 80s, hiking in caves in Manitou Springs, CO, walking from 61st & Lex to 6th Ave and Houston in New York, Sunsets on the coast in Malibu… sunbathing in the lagoon at Muir Beach. Now that I live in LA it’s driving during Springtime, with my windows down, intoxicated by the plethora of citrus and jasmine varieties in bloom. All of these things equally inspire me on the daily- I suppose I am like the things Sandoval makes- pulling together inspiration from all over the place and seeing it through a California lens.

Flaneur: What has given you the inspiration to build Sandoval? Is it the child of any of your previous experience?

MC: I created my first spray because I was living in the garden level of a Victorian house in San Francisco, and needed something that was natural, to spray and help keep the space fresh. While living in San Francisco I had access to bulk essential oils at the Rainbow Grocery Cooperative, which enabled me to play and experiment without pressure. I came up with what was later named ‘Captain’. I used it to spray my apartment and give as gifts for a few years. Six years later I started Sandoval to offer something that was better than the toxic alternatives on the market. I guess it’s the child of a personal experience.

Flaneur: When you sat with TJ for the first time, you mentioned that you don’t consider any brand likeminded or as a visual reference, right? So how do you describe Sandoval as a brand and the lifestyle it nods to?

MC: Our customer spans generations – the way The Gap did at its inception. The Boomers, the Gen X’ers and the Millennials are all customers by demographic. I really wanted to create something that wasn’t so specific. After working in fashion for so long, creating things for very specific customers, I realized that this way of thinking creates exclusivity, which is isolating, and can leave little room for growth. The Sandoval products are great for people of all types, shapes sizes and ages!

Our customers are people who are casual, knowledgeable, with a taste for practical luxury. People who know that they want to surround themselves with sophisticated, healthy things. Easy, casual, conscious, spiritual in some way, but open to all. The person that does yoga either 5 times a week or once a year! Someone that knows what’s up, and knows what’s out there, and who has done their research.

“In today’s world, people are able to create their own private luxury in their own way.”

Flaneur: We’ve found color to be a very personal thing. We believe scent is equally personal too. Can you talk more about this?

MC: Color is everything- the presence or absence of tones and hues, the reflection of light- it is alive in a way, and it lives in a personal space for whoever sees or processes it. It triggers emotions, recalls memories. Scent is the same way. Scent is like a library that we build in our brains since birth. We’re utilizing primal, physiological recalls that trigger physical reactions. It is in our DNA, our ancestors breathed the fumes of burning sandalwood, herbs and frankincense resins. So, when we smell things, we are recalling ancient history, and a primal use of scent and sensory experience.

While creating the scents for the line, I would blend them with a consciousness of the properties of the oils, layering them, making blends rich and potent enough to cause a physical reaction in me. Started to actually process and feel the scent that comes from these natural elements.

Flaneur: What colors are in your closet?

MC: Heather grey mélange/ sweatshirt jersey, various tones of navy (the more washed out the better!) beige, camel, a touch of spicy tones, denim, army green.Shop WindmereShop LuxorShop Wimbledon

Flaneur: Do you find the products for people to use at home a burgeoning market?

MC: Yes- I feel like people are building their own experiences. On top of the wellness thing happening people seem to be in a long-term nesting phase. 

In today’s world, people are able to create their own private luxury in their own way. There had always been a contrast in the home experience and the public space experience, unless you were of affluence. People are now able to purchase things that enhance their daily life experience. We can elevate our life experiences at home, in a more connected way.

Alchemy by Sandoval

Flaneur: How important is the story about spiritual, crystal, energy, etc. to Sandoval?

MC: I reached a point in my life where I wanted everything, I interacted with to have more of a story or spiritual link, effort or vibe. I wanted to surround myself with and create things that are somehow sustainable, ethical, & logical. 

Spirituality for me, is like hitting the gym, it’s like going for a run- it helps to create a healthy practice and balance that improves both my physical and mental health.

Crystals became something useful in my personal life several years ago, and I was like- why not share this!

The crystal also helps shake around the oils and blend them in the water when you shake the bottle- There’s great practicality in everything we do. We add crystals into each product one at a time, just the way we add our essential oils. Bottles are hand shaken and given some special attention. The crystals are little talisman, good luck charms- points of reference for good energy. I keep a couple in my change pocket of my pants, as little reminders of the intentions I’ve set, and hope that other people will find the energy we put into every product, inspiring or beneficial to them in some way.

Flaneur: What’s the future you want to build for Sandoval? Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

MC: I’d love to expand things into a lifestyle brand. The home space is so sacred to me, I’d love to be able to create things that inspire people and their spaces in the physical-realm as well as the scent-realm. A line of home accessories is definitely down the road. I’d love to collaborate on installations and creating spaces for residential and hospitality to further express the look and feel of Sandoval- a full, living, sensory experience. Most of all, I want to continue building a sustainable, healthy business, that creates great things that inspire people!

Flaneur: What’s next on your travel destination bucket list?

MC: Owning a lavender farm on the coast, distilling oils, and travelling around the world to work with artisans of all kinds.

About Sandoval: Rooted in carefree California simplicity, Sandoval’s life-enhancing aromatics stir the spirit and quiet the mind. Hand-blended with only natural essential oils, absolutes, woods, and resins sourced from around the world, our scents are rich in natural aromatherapy benefits and free from synthetic perfumes and additives that can disrupt the rhythms of the body.
Each scent contains an energy crystal, charged with good intentions and bathed in the light of the full moon—to promote positivity and nurture the sensual energy of your body and home.
Aromatic Sprays, Candles, Incense and Accessories now available.

Read more on the design’s relationship with scent.